Described as "impossibly rare" and "a complete fluke of nature," the 2.83-carat "Argyle Violet" diamond will go on public display next month as part of the “Diamonds: Rare Brilliance” exhibition at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
New York-based L.J. West Diamonds placed the winning bid for the headliner of Rio Tinto's “Chroma Collection," a select grouping of 63 rare pink, red and violet diamonds from its Argyle mine in Western Australia. Each year, the mining company selects the best of the best to be offered at its annual tender.
Although the winning bid was not disclosed, experts estimated that the oval-cut Argyle Violet would fetch between $1 million and $2 million per carat, yielding a final price of $2.8 million to $5.6 million.
The principals of L.J. West were excited to share the amazing diamond with the public.
“I am glad to have it shown,” company president Larry West told NationalJeweler.com. “It’s so rare. Nobody’s ever seen stones like this, and I think it’s important for them to be out there in the public domain. It makes it more real for people. It’s not just a story.”
The Rio Tinto-owned Argyle mine generates more than 90% of the world’s pink diamonds, and on rare occasion will yield a violet stone. In the past 32 years, Argyle has produced only 12 carats of polished violet diamonds for its annual tender. In fact, before the discovery of the Argyle Violet, the mine had delivered just one other 1-carat-plus violet-colored diamond — and that was in 2008.
When Rio Tinto first revealed the unusual diamond back in May, company representatives could barely contain their excitement.
“Impossibly rare and limited by nature," said Rio Tinto’s general manager of sales Patrick Coppens, "the Argyle Violet will be highly sought after for its beauty, size and provenance.”
"A complete fluke of nature,” is how Josephine Archer from Argyle Pink Diamonds described the Argyle Violet to Yahoo7 News.
The Argyle Violet is the largest violet diamond ever recovered from the Argyle mine in Western Australia. Argyle’s master polisher Richard How Kim Kam worked for more than 80 hours cutting the 9.17-carat oddly-shaped rough diamond into its perfectly symmetrical final form. More than 69% of the diamond’s weight was lost during the cutting process.
The Argyle Violet was assessed a color grade of “Fancy Deep Greyish Bluish Violet” by the Gemological Institute of America. Violet diamonds owe their unique color to the presence of hydrogen atoms in the chemical composition of the stone.
The “Diamonds: Rare Brilliance” exhibition is schedule to run through March 2017. After that, the gem will be sold — not via the high-profile auction channels — but through L.J. West's retail partners.
Images courtesy of Rio Tinto.